Burien storefront allegedly used to resell stolen goods on sites like Amazon and eBay

BURIEN, Wash. — With organized retail theft on the rise, law enforcement is working to crack down on calculated criminals.

The latest intervention comes in Burien, where the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges two people were using a small storefront as a front to sell stolen goods around the world.

“On multiple occasions, we had undercover officers, portray themselves as individuals that were seeking to sell stolen merchandise,” says Steven Schrank, the Deputy Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Seattle.

He says HSI worked to build their case, before executing a search warrant in mid-December.

During the search, investigators found shelf after shelf of illegal merchandise. More than 74,000 suspected stolen items split between a Burien storefront and warehouse, and a Federal Way home. The crimes at the three locations, currently linked to two people, Vitaliy Bobak and Andrey Balun.

Schrank says things like vitamins and beauty supplies were stolen in large quantities from local stores. They were then bought at the Burien storefront to be sold online through sites like Amazon and eBay.

“It’s not just coming into a store and stealing something for individual use, what we’re seeing is a growing increase of organized crimes that are going on throughout the state of Washington,” says Renee Sunde, with the Washington Retail Association. She says what allegedly happened in Burien, is calculated. It’s also a growing concern across the state.

An illegal, multi-part system, that consumers unknowingly are buying into.

“If the prices are out of the norm from what you would see in an actual retail store, it’s pretty likely that those items are being stolen, fenced and sold on an online place,” says Sunde.

While law enforcement works to crack down on this kind of theft, so are online retailers. Both Amazon and eBay have reporting mechanisms on their platforms, if users think someone is selling stolen goods.

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